Instacart Brings Digital Ads to Smart Carts

The pilot puts ads on Caper Carts at Good Food Holdings' Bristol Farms stores in Southern California, with additional retail partners rolling out in the months ahead.
Jacqueline Barba
Digital Editor
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Instacart has expanded its advertising solutions to Caper Carts, the company's AI-powered smart carts. 

The grocery delivery and pick-up service company will begin piloting ads on Caper Carts at Good Food Holdings' Bristol Farms stores in Southern California, with additional retail partners coming on board  in the months ahead, according to a media release. Instacart expects to have thousands of these Caper Carts deployed by the end of 2024.

The ads will appear on the Caper Cart screens, offering shoppers personalized recommendations and experiences to help them discover new brands and products as they browse the physical aisles of a grocery store. Instacart says this advertising opportunity connects brands and retailers with consumers directly in the aisles. Shoppers, on average, spend more than 30 minutes shopping in-store with a Caper Cart.

Instacart's CPG launch partners for this offering include Del Monte Foods, Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream and General Mills. Shoppers using Caper Carts at participating retailers will soon experience two new features:

  • New products and brands, deals and seasonal promotions to “surprise and delight” consumers at the start of the shopping journey on the Caper Cart home screen. For example, a shopper might see a creative banner highlighting limited-edition Chocolate Strawberry Cheerios from General Mills for Valentine's Day.
  • Personalized product recommendations based on their real-time shopping behaviors or cart contents. For example, if shoppers add ice cream cones, they might see a complimentary item recommendation, like Dreyer's ice cream.

"Our acquisition of Caper has been a core part of our strategic evolution to support retailers and brands not just online but also in-store,” Fidji Simo, CEO and chair of Instacart, said in the release. “It was one of the first major decisions I made as CEO of the company as we launched our Connected Stores technologies, and today we're excited to introduce the next phase of this work. ... [The] announcement expands on the success of our advertising solutions and smart carts to power a more inspirational, connected in-store shopping experience for customers.”

Ads on Caper Carts builds on Instacart's Carrot Ads advertising solutions and technology, which enables retailers like Schnucks, Sprouts Farmers MarketPrice Chopper NY and Tops Markets to establish and grow retail media networks on their owned and operated websites and apps — powered by Instacart Ads technology. Instacart says Carrot Ads brings together the best of Instacart advertising, including the company's technology, products, engineering and sales talent and data insights to retailers' owned and operated e-commerce sites.

[Also Read: Instacart Unveils Enhanced Omnichannel, AI Solutions]

Instacart says its latest in-store advertising announcement also marks the company’s continued, off-platform ad capabilities expansion. Over the last year, Instacart has extended its off-platform advertising capabilities to Roku and The Trade Desk, which are “all rooted in enhancing CPG brands' advertising with Instacart's retail media data,” per the release. 

Caper Carts are part of Instacart's Connected Stores suite of technologies, built to help grocers bridge the online and in-store shopping experience. By using computer vision and AI, the cart can automatically identify items as they are placed in the basket, allowing consumers to bag as they shop and checkout directly from the cart. 

Instacart says the reception to Caper Carts has been strong and shoppers “appreciate” the ability to link their loyalty accounts to the carts, giving them access to personalized promotions and savings while shopping in-store. Caper Carts appeal to grocers of all sizes – retailers currently using or soon deploying carts include Bristol Farms, Fairway Market, Geissler's, ShopRite and Sobeys.

[Also Read: Geissler's to Launch Instacart's Smart Carts in All Stores]

"Late last year, we unveiled our plans to update most of our traditional shopping carts with Instacart's smart carts, aiming to make shopping easier, more personalized, and efficient for customers," Bob Rybick, president and CEO of Geissler's Supermarkets said. "Now, with the introduction of ads on Caper Carts, we'll be able to take that goal a step further — not only enhancing the in-store experience by helping customers discover new products, brands and promotions, but also unlocking a new revenue stream and opportunities to strengthen customer loyalty."

“The Caper Carts provide an opportunity for us to provide meal inspiration, introduce new products or simply remind the shopper to stock-up on pantry staples, while continuing to deliver a personalized, relevant experience based on past shopping behaviors," Jen Reiner, vice president, omnichannel marketing, Del Monte Foods, added.